Sydney. I saw Juan Antonio Samaranch today.

I was walking around Circular Quay; and about 4.40 p.m. decided to head back to the city center, going by the Regent Hotel (IOC HQ). Other times I'd always passed only the front entrance on George Street; today on impulse decided also to take a walk by the back.

Turned down Harrington Street, which was quiet and almost deserted, and headed towards the back of the Regent. Opposite the Hotel was a convenience store; its proprietor stood on the sidewalk along with a young Asian couple and a small boy. They were all looking at the Regent. I joined them, and saw that what they were watching was a group of people outside the Hotel's entrance: volunteers in their distinctive multicolored uniforms and hats, a couple of coppers, men in suits. One of these was Michael Knight, the New South Wales Minister for the Olympics. A car with tinted windows was waiting.

This was obviously some high-powered bunch of IOC/Sydney Olympics officials, and while photographing them I congratulated myself on having detoured this way. Then, out of the Regent emerged Samaranch himself. My eyes were popping. He spoke briefly to Knight and the others, shook some hands, stepped towards the waiting car. Then he glanced across the street and saw the five of us standing there watching, and he lifted a hand in greeting--he was looking right at me. My own hand lifted in response. I was grinning like an idiot.

It seemed to have lasted minutes, but it was but a moment--and he got into the car. Impossible to see him through the darkened windows. "Goodbye and keep well, Mr Samaranch!" called the store proprietor. The young Asian woman next to me waved at the car as it pulled away from the kerb and moved down the street. The proprietor went back into his store. The couple and their child continued on their way. And so did I, feeling as if (I'm an atheist for Chrissake) I'd been touched by the hand of God.

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